Odd the things that bother you about getting old. Nora Ephron felt bad about her neck, but me…I miss my waist.
Vestiges of it tease me in the morning mirror. Nothing Scarlet O’Hara worthy, mind you, but a slight concave-ness that reminds me of my younger years. Then after breakfast it’s disappeared, leaving a sturdy babushka in its place. I miss that dead space above my hips. Having something to park my hands on while my face does that, “You did what?” expression.
I know. I’m part of that subsection of people for whom gravity pulls harder. Knocking inches off my height and squishing out my sides like pulled taffy.
But it’s not just the absence of a shape I once had; it’s what it signifies. The gradual thickening connotes an acceptance of the status quo. A settling, not just of my middle parts, but also of everything in my life.
As every writer knows, a ticking clock adds tension and urgency. It reverberates in my head constantly. Many mornings I wake up restless and digest the New York Times Travel section with more fervor than usual. I consider each sun-drenched or ancient location as a possible new life. One more experience to savor before I can’t.
I have wonderful children, a good husband, a lovely home, and the luxury of spending my time writing fiction. Still there are always dreams unfilled. And the shrinking time means more careful consideration of each decision. There are fewer to waste. I will never sing without people wincing. I will never put a two-piece bathing suit on again. It is unlikely that I will ever be fluent in anything but English, and there are days when I doubt even that accomplishment.
Judging the ebbs and flows of my waistline allows me to avoid the time killer in the mirror. My mother’s face. Not the open and loving face of her younger days, so joyously captured in fading black and white photographs. I wish. No, it’s the white-haired wheelchair-bound face of those last, difficult years of her life. Saggy cheeks and ill-defined lips. A neck that seems to migrate on its own as I turn my head. Random spots which appear overnight, each harboring something potentially fatal.
I live a life of narrowing expectations now. I’d like to publish a well-respected novel or two. I’d like to live overseas for a period of time. I might even get a dog someday. Maybe I’ll write a novel about living abroad with a dog.
In the meantime, I’ll do a few more stretches and twists. Try to convince myself that boxy dresses are attractive. That my sixties will be a time of adventure and surprise.
And every day I write because some dreams are possible.